UARR’s deputation to TDSB on the School Resource Officer program

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, UARR Board Members Malika Mendez and Ainsworth Spence made the following presentation to the Toronto District School Board regarding the School Resource Officer program.

To the Chair and Trustees of the TDSB:

UARR supports the dissolution of the SRO program. Let us explain why.

One, by quoting from respected sources; two, by examining the genesis of the SRO program; and three, by elaborating on some of the impacts. 

Two quotes from the 2008 Review of the Roots of Violence Report presented by Justice Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling are extremely telling. They state that they “were taken aback by the extent to which racism is alive and well and wreaking its deeply harmful effects on Ontarians,” and that they believed “that well-trained and properly paid youth workers can play critical roles in bridging youth, schools and communities.”

In their well-researched and thoughtful analysis, they did not advocate for police officers in schools because they identified “a wide consensus in the community that the safe schools provisions have had a disproportionate impact on racialized students.”

On our next point re: the SRO program. This program began in the US in the early ’50’s at a time when racism was rife and the KKK flourished. It was enforced in many schools located in districts that were classified as poor and where a large percentage of children came from Black households. It was developed in response to the perception that these communities had a greater number of  “delinquent” children.

In this program the word “resource” stands out. A resource is a source of support or supply.  A police officer’s first duty is to enforce the law. A police officer is not a source of support like a social worker or a guidance counsellor, and should not be expected to provide these services. It is not the role of an SRO to deal with the myriad of issues that racialized and marginalized youth face. That is the work of  trained and skilled professionals. The SRO program is a stop-gap substitute. What these youth need are more social workers and more guidance counsellors. Not criminalization.

In regards to some impacts on youth, put yourself in the place of a young child whose family has emigrated from a conflict zone or a war-torn country. Imagine the fear and confusion this child experiences when they are confronted by a uniformed SRO. For many children this conjures the images of violence and fear they encountered in their home country. Add to this the element of opposing cultures, language barriers, religious beliefs, appearance, etc., and we have a situation ripe for misinterpretation. The result is criminalization of  black and racialized youth.

Poor, marginalized, or racialized youth are more likely to be labeled disruptive and their behaviour criminalized , while their peers are more often diagnosed with physiological or mental health issues which are treated. A child with a few suspensions often ends up as being “known” to police. This further stigmatizes him or her. Societal perceptions about Black and racialized groups categorize, stigmatize, and ostracize them.

In conclusion, UARR strongly urges TDSB Trustees to dissolve this program. We urge Trustees to direct resources to providing more social workers, guidance counsellors, and anti-racism training for its staff so that students from Black and racialized communities can realize and share their full potential.

Thank You

Malika Mendez and Ainsworth Spence

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UARR joins the call to ban the racist game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”

For Immediate Release

Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) and Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change (COP-COC)

Call to ban racist game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”

 

October 2, 2017 / Toronto – The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO), together with Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC), strongly condemns the mobile game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” for its racist stereotypes. We urge Apple and Google to refuse to carry the game on their mobile platforms, and call on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ontario Human Rights Commission to sanction the game developer so that no one profits from perpetuating racism.

Chinese restaurants play an important part of the migration history of Chinese in Canada. First generation immigrants experienced considerable hardship, discrimination and racial prejudice when they ran these businesses to support themselves and their families, and to survive in a new country where there were few other economic opportunities that were open to them. The game mocks these real experiences of exclusion and abuse by portraying them in various spiteful scenarios. It includes plots such as dodging immigration officials, in an utterly disrespectful portrayal of the painful history of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Head Tax. It is hurtful to many members of the community who still face overt racism and microaggression on an everyday basis because of historic and ongoing systemic exclusion. Chinese in Canada continue to experience many forms of discrimination and racism in employment, education and in many aspects of their daily lives. The game developer claims that ‘being politically correct is boring’, but in fact is using bigotry to make a profit from the very real pain and suffering of Chinese Canadians.

CCNCTO and COP-COC urge the game developer, Big-O-Tree Games to incorporate an anti-racist policy in its business practice, as many private sector coporations have done, to bring positive influence to the public through video games and rather than perpetuating racism that will hurt not only the Chinese Canadian community but also other racialized and immigrant communities.

The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) is an organization of Chinese Canadians in the City of Toronto that promotes equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation, and respect for diversity.

COP-COC is a province-wide initiative made up of individuals, groups and organizations working to build community-based capacity to address the growing racialization of poverty – for both First Peoples and peoples of colour – and the resulting increased levels of social exclusion and marginalization of racialized communities across Ontario.

Signed by:
Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
Canadian Arab Federation
Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
Urban Alliance on Race Relations

For more information, please contact:

Alvis Choi
Interim Executive Director
Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
Tel: 416.596.0833 (ext. 1)

Amy Casipullai
Senior Coordinator Policy & Communications, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Tel: 416-524- 4950 (cell)

 

CCNC Press release here

UARR at Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre’s AGM

On Thursday, September 14, 2017, a representative from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations was invited to address the 32nd annual general meeting of the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre (BBNC), an organization that works with a wide range of communities. Malika Mendez, Vice President of UARR, was proud to accept the invitation and act as keynote speaker for the event.

Malika brought greetings and well wishes for the ongoing success of BBNC from the Board, staff, members and friends of UARR. In addition, she highlighted the commonalities that are intrinsic to new Canadians and more established communities, and shared a message of respect, inclusion, shared humanity, and experiences. She further recommended fighting racism and discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, age, colour, or ethnic origin by engaging in the political process of voting, lobbying, and becoming involvee in a relevant organization.

Both UARR and BBNC share many of the same values of fostering diversity and promoting and practicing non-discrimination.

On behalf of UARR, our congratulations to BBNC, the Board of Directors, Executive Director, staff, members, friends, and program participants.

Malika Mendez Keynote Speaker at BBNC.JPG
Malika Mendez addressing BBNC’s AGM
Malika Mendez & BBNC Executive Director Enrique Robert
Malika Mendez and BBNC Executive Director Enrique Robert

Why have we not seen coverage of floods in South Asia?

Since August 25th.,  CBC and CTV have reported extensively about Hurricane Harvey and the impact on Houston. At last count up to 12 people (including a family of 6) may have died in the flooding. That number could rise as the waters recede.  Of course this is a human tragedy and the loss of life is devastating.

Contrast this however, with the coverage or non-converage of the overwhelming monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. Based on information from rescue works and government agencies the collective death toll for the 3 countries now surpasses 1200. To quote Al Jazeera “millions of people stranded by the worst such disaster in years” are struggling to cope.

One is motivated to ask an obvious question. Why is the reporting of  similar events on 2 continents receive  such un-even coverage? Is the human tragedy unfolding in South Asia of lesser consequence than that in the US South? And why are 1200 deaths of  Nepalese, Banglasdeshis and Indians being ignored or glossed over.

Our major news outlets need to examine their editorial choices. With Canada’s changing demographics it is important for them to recognize that many Canadians want to see, hear and read about those parts of the World that are part of their heritage. Let us urge them to become more inclusive and universal in their coverage of major events.

Malika Mendez,

Vice-President, Board of Directors, UARR